Listening is Not Agreeing –
Late last week someone said something about me and that I didn’t agree. At first, the emotion was to respond, defend myself, dig in my heels, push back against the criticism. It wasn’t something overwhelmingly harsh but it did rub me the wrong way.
Instead of responding right away I sat with it for a bit and reflected on it. Oftentimes critiques are met with resistance. We want to defend ourselves. However, if we are too quick to jump our own defense we might miss something constructive. There’s an old wisdom saying; “Both criticism and compliments should be taken with the same weight.” Receiving compliments and praise can be easier but they have a way of pumping up our ego and sense of self. Criticisms, if held on to, can create bitterness, rivalry, and ruptured relationships.
One of the greatest disciplines of contemplative listening is found in the truth; “Listening is not agreeing.” When someone speaks to us a compliment or criticism we do not have to own it, take it inside of us, let it mingle with our minds, emotions, and spirits. We can examine it, turn it over in our minds and, if we have self-awareness, can decide if it is meant for us, to grow, to learn, to let it become a part of us. Perhaps its simply another’s opinion and through insight and stillness, we discover that we can let it go. It’s not for us.
“The mark of a wise mind is the ability to hold a thought in our heads
and not necessarily believe it to be true.” #Aristotle
Not so Fast –
Liturgy is one of my favorite parts of worship. I like the rhythm, the movement, the flow of a service. Contemporary worship, for me, is lacking this undertone of structure and meaning. Yesterday, I wrote about a gentleman in a “Declaration of Independence” shirt (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/07/03/what-are-we/), but it wasn’t the only thing trying to disrupt the rhythm of the service.
When scriptures, creeds, prayers and responsories are being read/said, I like to utter them slowly. I want to soak in the words, hear them in my heart, let them resonate with my spirit. However, behind me in service yesterday, was a woman who spoke loudly and quickly. She was often ahead of the priest as he was leading the congregants. It was almost as if she was in a race to see who would finish reading first. Because of her hurry and volume I found myself distracted and was having difficulty allowing the words to make their way past the surface. With frustration rising, I took a deep breath and did my best to let her pace not dictate my own. I focused on my breath, the words on the screen and allowed the voice of rushing, haste and swiftness to fade. It wasn’t gone but also wasn’t imposing its pace upon me.
On my was home I reflected upon the woman’s rapidity and how easily it is to allow the speed of others to set the tempo for our lives. It’s a difficult discipline to learn; to live slowly, purposefully at a speed where we revel in and soak up each moment. Every breath and experience can be worship if we’re willing to resist the rush, find the rhythm which leads to harmony, balance and peace.
“The wise person can find the whole universe in a single drop of rain.” #wisdom #proverb
I’m in a hurry! Even as I write this post I am getting ready to leave to teach a class. My brain is split between writing and the lesson soon to be delivered. Most of the afternoon has been non-stop.
I don’t like feeling pressured. I can’t stand the sense of being late, missing things because I’m trying to do too many things at once. There is a sense that my timing is off. My body, mind and spirit seems as if they’re trying to catch up to a clock that refuses to stand still, even for a moment.
Why do some days move so fast while others meander? I wish I could grab one of those hours which seemed to have lasted forever and put it between me and my next appointment. Just plop it down and say; “Enough!” and go find a hammock and take 60 beautiful minutes to do nothing. Sigh. Unfortunately life doesn’t work this way.
Wisdom teaches me to carry the stillness within. To remember that some days may feel shorter, like they’re moving at the speed of light, but the same amount of seconds, minutes and hours occupy each day. Perhaps it’s not time which needs to be adjusted, but me, the one who’s being swept away.